Iowa’s outgoing house speaker is criticizing his own party for failing to recognize the importance of absentee voting. Sioux City Republican Christopher Rants says the GOP has been too slow in acknowledging the Democrats’ superior absentee ballot efforts.
Rants says their loss of statehouse seats did not stem from party positions. He says if you look at the numbers, with a “flip” of 1,471 votes, he’d be sitting in the House Speaker’s office again when the legislature convenes in January. It was a close election, Rants says, and he doesn’t believe the outcome signals a repudiation of the agenda that House Republicans have been pursuing the last couple years.
Rants points to a Council Bluffs race in which Republican candidate Scot Belt got better poll numbers every week and won every precinct on election day. But he lost to Democratic opponent Paul Shomshor, who had absentee ballots cast for him already.
“You can’t spot somebody a thousand votes and expect to make it up on election day.” “We cannot continue to spot the Democrats 33-thousand absentee ballots before the polls even open on election day.”
He says Democrats already had 33-thousand votes “in the bank” on election day, which is one of the reasons Republicans lost control of the legislature in last Tuesday’s elections. “The Democrats spent thousands of dollars and put hundreds of people on the streets,” Rants says, to go get those votes. He says they “banked ” them early, before a lot of negative attack ads began, and before the peak of public attention focused on the election. “They’re out-doing us at that effort, and we are going to have to improve.”
Rants says a lot of Republicans think they can counter the early-voting advantage with higher turnout at the polls, but clearly that failed this year. He says a lot of Republicans think the absentees don’t matter. In 2004 it worked, because so many people turned out “to defend the president,” he says, they outnumbered the absentees. In this off-year election, that 33-thousand-vote margin cost the GOP a few seats. Rants is hoping that later today (Tuesday) his fellow Republicans elect him House Minority Leader.